How to design for entertaining during the holidays and beyond

The holidays are officially here and that means it’s hosting and entertaining season. This is the time of year when you really get to see how your home’s layout works and what might need to be changed. When thinking about entertaining in your home, the two most important things to think about are space and function.

Do you have enough space to host guests and is that space functional?  For those that have overnight guests, you of course must think about sleeping arrangements. But, for everyone, the most important areas to think about are the kitchen and living/entertaining spaces.  These are the areas where you and your guests will spend most of your time.

When thinking about your space and a possible redesign or remodel, the first question to think about is: what is your entertaining style?  Some people have large gatherings of friends and family, while others prefer more intimate groups. Will your guests stay inside, or do you want to use exterior entertaining space, as well? This, of course, also depends on the weather.

Do you like to host formal dinner parties for the holidays or are your gatherings more informal? Will your guests be bringing food for a potluck meal or will you be cooking or having the meal catered?  These are all important questions to ask yourself. The best space for entertaining is a space that matches your style of entertaining.

For those who like to host large, informal gatherings, an open concept plan would make the most sense. An open concept plan is one that has a large, open living space that is open to the kitchen and dining area. This space allows guests more room to freely move around and mingle but also makes sure the host(s) still feel like they are part of the party.

This type of plan tends to also lend itself to a kitchen with an island or large peninsula. An island or peninsula is a great area to put out food and drinks or place additional seating. This style opens up the seating options for guests.  Everyone doesn’t have to feel crammed into one space and you likely won’t need to bring in many additional chairs, if any, if you have seating in your dining room, kitchen and living room available. 

One thing to keep in mind with an open floor plan is that you will want the lighting style to flow throughout the space, as well as the wall color and flooring. If you have too many styles or colors in an open space, that visually breaks up the space and can make it feel smaller.

For those who like smaller, more formal gatherings, like dinner parties, an open concept might not be the best plan for you. When hosting a formal gathering or dinner party, you likely will want a formal dining area. Having a separate dining area from the kitchen keeps the cooking mess out of guests’ sight or allows you to bring in a caterer or private chef, and the dining room stays clean and quiet where guests can talk.

While the open concept plan is certainly very popular right now, it’s not for everyone. Some people still prefer formal, defined spaces and don’t want everyone to see into their kitchen. And just because your kitchen is not open to the other areas of your home doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful, updated kitchen. You may want to consider updating cabinets, lighting, work surfaces, and storage so that you have a functional space.

In the South, we’re fortunate enough to be able to be outside a lot of the year. Having a covered deck or screened porch adds to your entertaining square footage and allows guests to utilize space outside. However, if you want a space that truly is for any season or all-weather, then a sunroom is a great option. Adding a sunroom or converting a deck or porch into a sunroom will give you additional space to host guests. Plus, it will give you a space to enjoy and entertain in all year long.

If this holiday season leaves you feeling cramped and wishing for more space, consider a floor plan or kitchen remodel or even an addition. That way, you’ll be prepared to host a bigger, and even more spectacular party next year.  Merry Christmas and happy entertaining!

This article originally appeared in Lakeside News